A Life Jacket Please…….

Published July 3, 2012 by thefamilyof5

This time of year is difficult for lots of children for many different reasons, the changes and lack of structure in school is just too much for some.

My girls all met their new teachers in preparation for September yesterday, and don’t I know about it. It started on the way home, fussing about insignificant things, stroppy behaviour, being spiteful, eating issues. I made sure we took the time to chat about their day and they said they were all happy with their new teachers, they liked their class mates, the classrooms were nice. There were no issues it seemed, but my gut told me something was going on and the 2hours it took them to settle off to sleep confirmed it.

It continued to be an unsettled night with thrashing about, coughing and general ‘awakeness’ around 1am, again at 4am, with a noisy trip to the bathroom that re-woke everyone and it just spiralled from there.
By morning I’d had enough, I took the decision to leave them resting (yeah right!) in bed rather than get them up for school.

It was a difficult morning, I was tired and irritated by their early morning antics. They were tired, grumpy and tetchy. Once we’d all had breakfast and calmed down we had a talk. I waffled on about good choices, they occasionally threw in the odd ‘pleasing’ comment. We chatted about how the changes of the previous day must have been difficult and how talking about feelings would have been a much better way to handle it. I asked middle girl why she’d felt the need to relentlessly disturb baby girl and prevent her going back to sleep from the small hours. ‘I don’t know’ was the reply and she probably doesn’t. I continued to waffle on in the hope some of it would sink in. I don’t know which one brought it up or how we got on to the topic but they started to talk about their past experiences and how some of those experiences had left them feeling scared and frightened. I told them that it made me feel very sad to know that they’d had to deal with such awful things and they must have been very frightened. I told them that in our family they’d never have to feel frightened or scared. They would always have food and warmth and a clean home. I told them that Mummy and Daddy would always be here to take care of them, love them, and keep them safe and how, if I could, I would take all those nasty memories away and make it all better for them. I told them that talking about things, in a magical kind of way, makes things better, so we always have time to talk about feelings, memories or worries. I told them that keeping worries inside creates a black heaviness around our hearts (I couldn’t think of another way to describe it) and eventually the dark mist inside us hides the smile in our hearts, and if our heart can’t smile, then neither can our faces.
I’m not a therapist, did I use the right words, did scare them and make it worse. I don’t know. I’m angry that I even had to have that conversation with them, they’re children, they should never have to feel scared and there should be a professional somewhere that’s telling them the right things.
I took them to school in time for lunch, came home and flaked, soaked in their trauma.

In my despair I called the placing authorities post adoption support team hoping they’d offer some support. They’re familiar with the issues we’ve been having over the last few months with the girls sleeping, or lack of. They’re aware that there are issues between the younger two that make their relationship difficult.
Through my tears I described to them the last 24hours. I explained (again) that its been an issue for the last 6months but yesterdays ‘change’ had just exasperated the situation. I told them we’ve tried everything to address their late night and early morning antics. We talked about the vicious cycle of tiredness feeding the trauma related behaviour and I told them how I’m at a loss as to what else we can try.
I’m not sure what I expected them to offer to be honest, but I know it wasn’t the email of parenting techniques they offered to send.

I’m tired, I’m tired of being tired, and I’m tired of my requests for help being met with nothing more than empathy. What will it take for someone to throw me a life jacket!

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8 comments on “A Life Jacket Please…….

  • Tell me about it. No one has the answers that I need either. It just helps to know that we are not alone. My son is, once again, in the sleep pattern when he is put to bed, & just cannot ‘drop off’ by himself. Daddy spends many evenings laying next to him until he finally falls asleep ( it doesn’t work with me, but I end up doing the early morning shift, when he wakes at 4 & I go in to lay with him).If only we had a magic potion or some fairy dust even, when just a little of it would help these lovely, courageous, wonderful children to drift off to sleep, safe in their small world.

    • Our eldest is like that, she takes an age to settle. The issue with middle and baby are a bit different as they share a room. Middle girl will intentionally wake, or keep awake, baby girl. No clues how to handle it, nothing works :/
      Thanks for your comment, I hope you find a solution for your little one. Have you tried soothing music/classical music, in his room? I hear that can help sometimes.

  • As an ex-foster carer I have been reading your blog for some time now. I can relate to what you are saying – I have had similar conversations and the anger that this shouldn’t even be necessary for children. It sounds as if you did wonderfully.

  • Don’t even start me about post-adoption support, or the lack of it. I understand your ‘lifejacket’ comment only too well. We are currently locked into a battle with my daughters school (she’s currently year 7) as they seem to refuse to accept attachment issues or an early experience impact now. I try desperately to explain things to them and they look at me as if I’m speaking Swahili!!!!! Hopefully we will be having a meeting sometime soon (as they are stalling at the moment) and the situation is spiraling out of control. I’m beginning to feel increasingly isolated, lonely and desperate and am now under the doctor for an ulcer. So if they DO fling a lifejacket in your direction, would you ask if they have a spare one please??????

    • I’m so sorry that no one is supporting you and your daughter through all of this, I hope someone starts to take note soon before they do any further damage.
      I will most definitely ask for a life jacket for you too if I get offered one 🙂

  • What a huge struggle! And so frustrating. And completely heartbreaking.

    Since bringing our toddler son home (from foster care) he’s been having sleeping issues. He just needs to be held and held and held sometimes. Not every night anymore, but sometimes and we’re not about to let him “tough it out” as someone suggested. He’s just been ripped away from everything familiar and is grieving.

    What is driving me NUTS is everyone (including social workers) who act like this is a normal thing. As if simple parenting techniques are what we need. Or maybe we’re overreacting. This is way beyond a “typical phase” or simply a “bad habit.” I’m sure we’ll work through it and it’s to be expected right now. But attachment and grief in children seems to be a foreign concept to most people, even those who should know better.

    Here’s hoping you find more and more people who “get it” and support your family better. I know that putting blogs like this out there is a huge help to the rest of us. Thanks!

    • Thank you for your kind words, I hope you also manage to link with more people who ‘get it’, rather than frustrate you with their well meaning pointless irrelevant tips and advice 🙂

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